Spin doctors and politicians – they are practically interchangeable. With such media hype it’s a wonder we ever get to the truth. Patrick McLoughlin the transport secretary told Sky News yesterday that electric cars were “fantastic”. Nobody contradicted him. Nobody said, “Get a life. It’s not true. It is a myth invented by greenies and political fellow-travellers. Electric cars are dead.”

He claimed: “They’re not town cars at all. They are fantastic cars; they’re built to a very high specification. Take one out and drive it.” Patrick McLoughlin aka Jim Hacker. Yes Minister was no comedy. It was a real life documentary. McLoughlin will be at the Ministry this morning making sure Sir Humphrey saw him on television, announcing a £37 million giveaway for plug-in chargers in homes, streets and railway stations.

The minister trumpeted that people would be increasingly attracted to electric cars, because charging batteries at home would be cheaper and faster than buying fuel at a filling station. What claptrap. He admitted confidence in electric cars would take time but the same was true of unleaded petrol.
“Buying a car is expensive, but I think if you look at the overall time and money you save by not having to put fuel in them, they are very serious competitors,” he said. “I’m pretty sure there will be a market. It’s a lot cleaner technology as well.” Who spun him all this rubbish? We have been listening to such bleats for a quarter of a century and there are still only a handful of electric cars.
He was careful to backtrack on numbers, “I’m not going to make a prediction of exactly how many cars are going to be on the roads or whether they’ll be electric or petrol. It’ll take a while to get the confidence about battery life. But it’s coming. They are fantastic developments and fantastic achievements by companies operating in Britain and being built by British engineers.”

Poor McLoughlin. He warbled on that since Nissan and Toyota are investing “huge amounts of money” in electric vehicles they would not be doing so if they did not believe a potential market existed. He obviously had no idea a Prius is a hybrid, and nobody told him Toyota has just scrapped plans for an electric minicar. Toyota said it had misread the market, didn’t believe battery technology was up to it and will go for hydrogen instead.